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Barren County Okays Needle Exchange for Drug Users

One south central Kentucky community has moved a step closer toward establishing a needle exchange for drug addicts. 

In a 4-3 vote with one abstention, the Barren County Fiscal Court approved a program Tuesday that will allow intravenous drug users to anonymously swap dirty syringes for clean ones at the local health department. 

Kentucky already has a high rate of Hepatitis-C, and health experts say needle exchanges can help reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases likes Hep-C and HIV. 

Magistrate John Benningfield voted in support of the program.

"It's more than just a needle exchange program. It's about building dialogue with these people, and hopefully, at some point getting them into rehab," Benningfield told WKU Public Radio.  "If just one person gets off drugs, then I think it's a good program."

Benningfield says, based on the research he’s seen, it’s a misconception that needle exchanges condone or increase drug use.  Some opponents have expressed concerns about addicts coming to Barren County from surrounding communities. 

Before a needle exchange can begin, approval must also come from the Glasgow City Council at its next meeting in January.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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